It’s thought that as we age, our cognitive function declines… or does it? The BTV Fitness and Wellness Department has launched a new program to explore how to improve brain function and prevent cognitive decline that result in conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
One presiding school of thought has been that the presence of plaque buildup in the brain signals a cognitive decline. However, new research shows that plaque buildup isn’t necessarily an absolute sign. In fact, the research shows that many older adults with plague buildup in the brain can still have optimal cognitive functioning. But how?
The answer could lie with two aspects that are crucial to brain health: neuroplasticity and cognitive reserve. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows neurons to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust to new situations. For example, when you try or experience something unfamiliar, new connections are made within the brain that improve neural plasticity.
Cognitive reserve allows the brain to improvise and find alternate ways of getting the job done. Meaning your brain can change the way it operates and make new recourses available to cope with challenges, such as plaque buildup.
The new research also shows that diet, exercise, meditation and certain types of mental stimulation can all positively impact brain health. Over the course of the next year, the BTV Fitness and Wellness Department will offer classes and activities that focus on these crucial areas so that residents can optimize their cognitive performance and sustain their brain health for many years to come.
Route 66 Fitness Winners
The Fitness and Wellness Department has wrapped up its Route 66 fitness challenge, and the winning team has been announced. The winners are BTV residents June Davis, Judy Doyle, Barbara Brannan and Doris Schuldt of the Red Birds team.
The Route 66 challenge divided participating residents into teams of four. Each team chose a car with a name. Residents participated in daily exercises and activities and received points for each that they completed.
The historic Route 66 is 2,449 miles long, and for every minute of physical exercise or activity the residents completed, their team was able to travel one mile. The first team to travel the entire length of Route 66 won.During the course of the challenge, the exercises and activities were changed to keep the competition lively and spontaneous. Many of the residents reported weight loss, more energy, and an increased mindfulness of the benefits that come from exercise.
Even though the Red Birds were the official winners, those who participated enjoyed the benefits that come with exercise.
By Jennifer Neill, Director of Fitness and Wellness